My Letter to "The Randi Rhodes Show"
Leapin' lizards, holy hallelujah, and jumpin' jehosaphat, I sure hope you don't actually BELIEVE that!
For years and years, the Radical Religious Right has been pushing the Big Lie that this is a Christian country, because it was founded by Christian patriots, operating with Christian values, governed by Christian principles, and led by Christian men.
And it's an absolute, bald-faced, 100% preposterous, total LIE!!!
Preposterous and pernicious tho it may be, Josef Goebbels was right. Repeat it often enuf, and it becomes pervasive and popular. SO popular, in fact, that it has made atheists (like me) the most disfavored minority group in America (ahead of, perhaps, child molesters, whom the survey didn't ask about).
"Would you vote for an otherwise well qualified candidate for President if he or she happened to be X?" That's what sociologists at the University of Minnesota asked.
For X = Jewish, 94%
For X = Catholic, 93%
For X = African American, 91%
For X = homosexual, 59%
For X = atheist, 49%
"Would it be OK for your daughter to marry an X?"
For X = conservative Christian, yes = 86.5%
For X = homosexual, yes = 77.4%
For X = Muslim, yes = 73.7%
For X = atheist, yes = 60.4%
And the galling thing about this is that the country was FOUNDED by atheists. (Well, not 100% pure atheists. They were actually deists. But deists are much, much closer to atheists than they are to Christians. The only reason deists saw a need for a God at all was because they couldn't otherwise explain how the Universe came to be. So they said "All right, we need a God to explain THAT, but after he was done, he walked away and never looked back.")
In fact, we should be eternally grateful that our presidents have NOT been "good Christian men". Like most Christians in these (relatively) enlightened times, their beliefs in the teachings of the Christian Bible have been tempered by reason and good sense. For REAL Christian men, who actually did what the Bible told them to do, you have to turn to role models like Robespierre, Savonarola, and Torquemada.
Below I am reproducing an essay that provides some salient evidence about the religious attitudes of our earliest presidents. But, before you get to that, allow me a moment to implore you to do what right-wing talk-radio hosts would never DREAM of doing: Admit you were wrong. On the air. Issue a correction, then a retraction.
I certainly don't expect an apology. I was involved in forensics in high school, and I know what a challenge a 5-minute extemporaneous speech was. I can't imagine what a 3-HOUR extemporaneous speech (every day) must be like, especially when you can't knock off and leave 5 minutes of dead air while you do your research.
But the advantage of a civilized society is that all of us together are smarter than any one of us individually. You don't need to do your own research when you've got audience members (like me) who are willing to pitch in and help out.
But please, please, please don't continue to perpetuate the RRR's lying stereotypes about unbelievers and non-Christians.
And if you are also among those who thotlessly accept the old canard that "There are no atheists in foxholes.", check out the website of the atheists who WERE in foxholes, the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers:
And now some research done by ANOTHER truth seeker:
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FOUNDING PRESIDENTS NOT CHRISTIAN
By William Edelen
One of my favorite times of the year is the Presidents’ month of February. Why? Because it gives me an annual opportunity to make a dent in the historical and religious ignorance of the political and Christian knee jerk right wingers. They spend almost full time in perverting American history claiming that the bible and Christianity were at the foundation of this nation. What total hogwash. Once a year I get to bring a few undisputed facts to their attention.
THE ENCYCLOPEDIA BRITANNICA, 1968, vol.2, p.420, quote: "One of the embarrassing problems for the nineteenth-century champions of the Christian faith was the fact that NOT ONE of the first six presidents of the United States was a Christian. They were Deists."
In Deism there is no personal God, only an impersonal "force" or "energy" or "natures God" or "providence". In Deism, the bible is nothing but literature, and bad literature at that. Jefferson and Paine both called it "a dunghill". Others of our founders used the same language. In Deism, Jesus was nothing more than a nomadic teacher. I will now let these men speak for themselves:
GEORGE WASHINGTON: "Being no bigot, I am disposed to humor Christian ministers and the church" looking for servants, he said: "I will be happy to have atheists, Jews, Christians or Mohammedans." In 1831, Episcopalian minister Bird Wilson said in a sermon: "Washington is no more than a Unitarian, if anything." Washington refused to take communion, looking upon it as superstition. He refused to ever kneel in church according to his wife and minister, James Abercrombie. The Treaty of Tripoli, under Washington, Article 11 begins: "As the government of the United States is NOT IN ANY SENSE founded on the Christian religion." This Treaty was ratified by the senate in 1797 under Adams, without a SINGLE OBJECTION...
THOMAS JEFFERSON: Author of the Declaration of Independence. "I have examined all the known superstitions of the world, and I do not find in our particular superstition of Christianity one redeeming feature. They are all alike founded on fables and mythology. Millions of innocent men, women and children since the introduction of Christianity have been burnt, tortured, fined and imprisoned. What has been the effect of this coercion? To make one half the world fools, and the other half hypocrites. And to support roguery and error all over the earth."
JAMES MADISON: Author of our Constitution and Bill of Rights. "A just government instituted to perpetuate liberty, does not need the church or the clergy. During almost 15 centuries the legal establishment of Christianity has been on trial. What have been been its fruits? These are the fruits in all places: pride and indolence in the clergy ... ignorance and servility in the laity ... and in both clergy and laity superstition, bigotry and persecution." Madison passionately objected to state supported chaplains in Congress and the military, as well as the exemption of churches from taxation. And rightly so. They should be taxed.
JOHN ADAMS: "The doctrine of the divinity of Jesus has made a convenient cover for absurdity" Adams signed the Treaty of Tripoli, which states that the United States is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion. Episcopalian minister Bird Wilson, in a sermon of October 1831, summed up the religion of our founding presidents in these words: "Among all of our Presidents, from Washington downward, not one was a professor of Christianity."
ABRAHAM LINCOLN: Not a founding president but a giant who shared exactly the same religious views: quote: "Christianity is not my religion and the bible is not my book. I have never united myself in any church because I could never give assent to the long, complicated statements of Christian doctrine and dogma." Lincoln never joined any church and was never baptized, looking upon it as superstition. His wife said: "my husband is not a Christian, but is a spiritual man I think." The most magnificent Pulitzer-Prize biography of this giant is Carl Sandburg's"Abraham Lincoln." And as Sandburg put it: "His views were such as would place him entirely outside of Christianity."
Thomas Jefferson put in one succinct sentence what they all believed. "The day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by a supreme being as his father in the womb of a virgin, will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter." (letter to John Adams, April 11, 1823)
Why are these facts of American history not being taught in our high schools? What forces are at work in our society to keep historical truth from our young people? We get all hot and sweaty about censoring movies and television. A far, far more lethal virus that is at work is the censorship of the religious views of our first six presidents, our Founding Fathers. Why is this not being taught? Why is your minister not telling you about it, assuming he is historically literate?
The genius Goethe said it best: "Nothing is more terrifying than...ignorance in action."
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9/11 was the ultimate faith-based initiative.